What to look for when choosing a care facility 

Choosing a care facility for an elderly loved one is not an experience any of us look forward to. If we’re lucky, we never have to face that challenge. Our elderly parents or other relatives manage to stay relatively independent or can be easily cared for by us or other caregivers in our home or even stay in their own homes with a little help.

You never know when choosing a care facility will be necessary.

However, inevitably some of us are forced to make the difficult decision to place our loved ones in a care facility for any number of reasons. If and when that time comes, we do want to make the best possible choice.

We want our parents in a comfortable, clean, well-run facility with highly trained, knowledgeable and caring staff.  We want them to get all the attention and care they want and need when they want and need it.

Under no circumstances do we want them ever to feel isolated, put out to pasture or pushed aside because they’ve become a problem. We’ll do all we can to make sure they are treated with dignity and respect and they feel deeply loved and highly regarded.

Why? Because they’re our parents or someone important to us and that’s exactly what we want if we ever get to that point ourselves.

What type of facility

The first decision that needs to be made when choosing a care facility is what type is needed.

It all depends on what the patient needs. If they are capable of most basic daily activities but possibly need help dressing or organizing their medications or even toileting, they would probably do fine in an assisted living facility. 

Those needing full-time nursing care need nursing homes

Generally, assisted living places provide light housekeeping, laundry services, transportation, organized social and cultural activities, exercise programs, meals and some personal assistance. They also allow for more privacy and independence than other types of facilities. 

If the patient needs more medical attention and is not capable of performing most personal daily activities without assistance, a nursing home is more appropriate. They have smaller staff to resident ratios and usually have nurses on duty around the clock.

If the patient has mental health problems such as dementia, disorientation or confusion, the best facility would be a memory home or nursing home trained and qualified to deal with those kinds of issues.

Once it’s determined which kind of facility is needed, you want to look for certain signs regardless of the type. Also, ask for recommendations from friends, clergy, relatives and community leaders. 

Considerations and questions for choosing a care facility

  • Is the facility licensed and certified to conduct the business it’s conducting?
  • Is the facility clean, well lighted and safe for handicapped or challenged individuals?
  • Does the facility have opportunities for physical exercise? Does it have equipment and certified instructors?
  • What kinds of social and cultural activities are offered?
  • Are there efforts for intellectual stimulation like classes, book discussions, and community lectures?
  • Does the facility promote independence and activity among the patients?
  • Is the food tasty and nutritious? Is a dietician or certified nutritionist on staff?
  • Is transportation provided for the residents? 
  • Do the residents seem happy, engaged and well cared for?
  • Do staff members get along with each other and are they kind and gentle with the patients?
  • What is the cost and how much will be covered by insurance, if any?
  • Be sure to study the admission contract carefully. 
  • Visit at least once unannounced and at odd times, like on a weekend or at a mealtime. Speak with residents and staff members.

Have you had any experience choosing a care facility for a loved one? Suggestions and recommendations for finding the right one are welcome. 


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